(CNSNews.com) - “I am disappointed,” said Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) after the Senate voted 54-45 to table his amendment barring the use of taxpayer funds for any part of a health insurance plan that covers abortion.
“Our proposal to ensure that the Senate health care bill doesn’t open the door to public funding of abortion was reasonable,” Nelson said in a statement on his Web site. “It was rational because it followed established federal policy. And it was right because taxpayers shouldn’t be required to pay for abortions.”
Nelson said the vote to table his amendment “makes it harder" for him to support the overall Senate health care bill. But according to press reports, Nelson has backed away from his earlier threat to support a Republican filibuster of the bill.
CatholicVoteAction.org, a Catholic lobby group, praised Nelson’s “valiant leadership” and said the vote to table the Nelson-Hatch amendment shows how hard it is to be a pro-life Democrat in the U.S. Senate.
“Nelson’s fellow Democrats, including many Catholics, bowed to the pressure of the abortion lobby and approved this massive taxpayer handout to Planned Parenthood and the billion-dollar abortion industry,” said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVoteAction.org.
“Catholic voters who may have disagreed on whether this legislation was a good idea to begin with have no choice but to collectively oppose this health care bill.”
The vote to table the amendment will result in the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade, the group warned:
“Americans firmly believe that abortion is not healthcare,” Burch said. “The United States Senate ignored the will of the people and instead forged ahead with a pro-abortion healthcare bill that will now face even weaker public support.”
A conservative civil liberties group said the vote to table the Nelson-Hatch amendment “reflects a callous disregard for the protection of innocent human life.”
“It is clear most Americans do not want abortion classified as a mandatory health care benefit,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
“The House understood this in passing the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. Sadly, the Senate chose to ignore the concerns of the American people and refused to approve an amendment that would have put into place much-needed pro-life protections in the Senate's version of health care reform.”
ACLJ is calling on pro-life Democrats – including Sen. Nelson – to follow through with their promise to reject a Senate health care bill that fails to exclude abortion funding.